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X-Men #121 (1979, May)

February 12, 2013

Previously, on X-Men . . . Anyone else read the X-Men with the voices from the ’90s animated series? Actually, I already know the answer. If you watched that show, then you do. Anyway, today’s story is titled “Shoot-Out at the Stampede!”

Shoot-Out at the Stampede!

Yay more Alpha Flight!

The three remaining X-Men – Cyclops, Colossus and Storm – bust into the Calgary Stampede. Shaman sprinkles some dust at the door behind them to keep innocents from getting involved. Cyclops gets a flashback to the previous issue, and we learn that Storm had tracked Vindicator’s energy trail to the Stampede. They find Nightcrawler and Wolverine tied up in the middle of the ring. Alpha Flight then confronts them. Cyclops and Vindicator argue, and Colossus thinks Northstar is moving behind Cyclops, and lashes out.

A fight breaks out. Lots of fun stuff going on. Snowbird is revealed as being a shape-changer. Alpha Flight uses better teamwork than the X-Men, giving them an advantage, until Shaman summons a bit of wind. It finally causes the blizzard to lose control. In the Calgary Tower, John and Darice are having supper when the windows shatter. Back at the fight, Colossus and Sasquatch pound on each other. There’s an amusing panel of Sasquatch holding Colossus’s head while Colossus takes a swing and misses. Then Colossus uses a Judo throw on him. Elsewhere, Nightcrawler teleports above Aurora, then surprises her with a kiss.

X-Men #121

Nightcrawler, you smooth dog, you.

Finally, the storm gets bad enough that it stops the fight. Storm realizes what’s happened, and knows she needs to stop it. She catches Snowbird in her cape, then flies up, thinking about how the last time she tried to shape a storm that strong, she failed and the strain nearly killed her. I’m not sure if that refers to the storm in the Drake Passage in #117, or if it’s supposed to refer to an event we haven’t seen. She slowly diffuses the blizzard, causing surprise snowfalls from the Rockies to the Atlantic Coast. Claremazon Moment Tracker: 8 for Storm (still 5 for Jean).

Once Storm lands, Northstar hits her in the back of the head, then gets blasted in return by Cyclops. And rightly so. That was a dick move. Wolverine stops Cyclops from kicking Northstar’s ass, and gives himself up to Alpha Flight. Wolverine’s loaded into an armoured car. Hours later, the X-Men are on a plane being escorted back to the US by CAF fighters. Once they cross the border and their escorts turn back, Cyclops says they’re going to go back for Wolverine. Wolverine tells him not to bother. He doesn’t explain how he got free, but says to break out the drinks for a celebration.

This is so awesome. I love Alpha Flight. Claremont gives them subtle characterization, enough for Byrne to latter build on when he launches Alpha Flight’s ongoing. He gives some moments of characterization to some of the X-Men, too. But mostly, it’s a big ol’ fight issue, and it’s glorious. Byrne draws it well, and makes it a really exciting fight. This issue really does belong to Byrne as a result. And, of course, he gives himself a nice cameo, as usual.  He did love drawing himself.

I will admit to being a little annoyed that Wolverine doesn’t explain how he got free. That feels like just a bit of a cop-out. But it’s a minor complaint, and a pretty standard trope, so it’s not a big deal. It’s a great issue, regardless.

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